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Volleyball: Warriors outlast Patriots on Dig Pink night

Dig Pink 9.jpg
The Pequot Lakes Patriots volleyball team huddles around coach Chris Ganley before a match against the Brainerd Warriors Monday, Sept. 30, at Brainerd High School. The match was a special "Dig Pink" event, raising awareness of breast cancer. A silent auction during the event raised funds for the Pink Ribbon Cupboard program, which began in 2010 for women and men undergoing treatment for breast cancer. This local program offers emergency assistance for non-medical needs and expenses that are a direct result of the burden arising from having a serious medical condition. Players wore pink accents with their uniforms and the spectators were also encouraged to wear pink. Gabriel Lagarde / Brainerd Dispatch

Rick Kuehlwein called it a brawl between rival teams.

Chris Ganley called it just what her Pequot Lakes Patriots needed.

The two coaches earned their paychecks Monday, Sept. 30, in the Warriors’ 3-2 victory over the Patriots at an electric and very pink Brainerd High School.

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Kuehlwein called it ugly volleyball, but was happy to get the victory on the heels of a big Central Lakes Conference rematch with Sartell Thursday, Oct. 3.

“They don’t have a really big terminator on Pequot,” Kuehlwein said. “They have a lot of nice players and they have middles who do really well, but Sartell has a terminator in this kid named (Elizabeth) Dillie. She’s an outside hitter and we went five with them in the same type of match. I think this prepared us, for five first of all, but the intensity got real good in the fifth set.

“And that was it. It was just a game of errors in that first five or six points of the fifth set. We just came out on top, but it’s huge for us to play a match like this before we see Sartell.”

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Warriors 3, Pequot Lakes 2

Key: Avery Eckman finished with 26 kills, including her 1,000th.

Overall: Brd 14-5, PL 10-4

Next: Brainerd at St. Cloud Tech 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1; Pequot Lakes hosts Staples-Motley 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3

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Brainerd spread the action in the fifth game. Karlie Anderson knocked down two late kills. Seniors Avery Eckman and Delaney Schaeffer each posted back-to-back kills to hand Brainerd a 5-2 edge early.

Freshman Kate Stadum went for five straight serves after struggling with her serve receive and defense early in the match.

“She’s a freshman and I want her to cut her teeth at the varsity level because she’s going to be important for us,” Kuehlwein said. “You need people like Kate. When I pulled her out after the first game I just asked her if she was alright. She said she was. She’s a tough kid and it wears on you when you make a few mistakes like that, especially when you’re 14-15 years old. We need Kate to be successful.”

Brainerd’s block was on point in the final frame and Grace Peabody added an ace serve as did Grace Rivard to secure the win.

Peabody served 26 times. She also added 26 set assists and 15 digs.

The Warriors needed to rally as Pequot Lakes dominated the first set 25-14. Kate Bolz-Andolshek rattled off nine straight serves, including three ace serves, to hand Pequot a 12-6 edge. Bolz-Andolshek then went on a spree of four kills to power Pequot to the win.

The sophomore middle finished with 17 kills, eight ace serves, six digs and five blocks.

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“I told the kids that this was awesome,” Ganley said. “This was a playoff atmosphere and I think that helped the girls have a little fun.”

The Patriots weren’t ready to relinquish moment in the second, but Warrior Eckman came alive. The senior outside hitter posted five of her game-high 26 kills in the frame including the final point in a 29-27 win.

DIG PINK Volleyball Pequot Lakes vs. Brainerd

“These kids see each other all the time in the summer league and in Junior Olympic volleyball they play together,” Kuehlwein said. “This is a rivalry. This is a no-win for us because we’re a 3A school and they’re a 2A school and that’s a lot of incentive for them. Our kids just had to battle and defensively, at the end, our kids came out and battled a little better than they did.”

Pequot’s Lydia Hubbard kept the Patriots in it with three of her 11 kills, but Schaeffer added two late kills to push Brainerd to the win.

“Brainerd figured us out a little bit and we had to figure them out a little bit more,” Ganley said. “They learned about us quicker than we adjusted to them.”

It appeared Brainerd zapped Pequot of its energy in the third set as the Warriors jumped out to a 9-1 lead. Bolz-Andolshek tallied a kill and an ace block before Eckman turned the momentum back in Brainerd’s favor. Eckman, who recorded her 1,000th career kill in the first set, posted three of four straight Brainerd kills handing Brainerd a 17-5 edge.

The pesky Patriots wouldn’t go away as Bolz-Andolshek ran off six straight serves, including two more aces. After an Eckman kill, Pequot secured three more points to make it 19-14 until the Warriors rushed to a 25-17 win.

“We have seen a hitter like Avery in Rilee Michaelson of Park Rapids,” Ganley said. “She’s not as good as Avery, but she’s good. She’s also a middle so she runs slides, but Avery is very good. It’s funny because in our last two matches, a hitter has gotten their 1,000th kill. Michaelson needed two and Avery needed one. So congratulations to those girls.”

Pequot forced a Game Five thanks to a 25-18 win the stanza before. Hubbard got hot again with three more kills and Mirjana Ganley, who added eight kills, 25 digs and an ace serve was 9-of-10 serving in the frame.

“We loved it,” Ganley said. “We would rather play this game every night than cream somebody in three. That doesn’t do us any good. I think I was most proud of our defense. At first, we struggled with figuring out their hitter, but then we started getting those digs. Then it was a matter of what are we doing with our offense.”

Pequot Lakes 25 27 17 25 8

Brainerd 15 29 25 18 15

Brainerd statistics

Kate Stadum 11 kills, 10 digs, 2 ace serves

Grace Peabody 26 set assists, 15 digs, 2 ace serves

Abbi Bohlen 12 set assists, 11 digs

Avery Eckman 26 kills, 4 blocks, 19 digs, 1 ace serve

Grace Rivard 26 digs, 1 ace serve

Karlie Anderson 6 kills, 5 blocks

Delaney Schaeffer 5 kills, 2 blocks

Pequot Lakes statistics

Rita Ganley 1 ace serve, 27 set assists, 11 digs

Mirjana Ganley 1 ace serve, 8 kills, 25 digs

Maddy Morrison 3 kills, 1 dig, 1 ace block

Greta Harmala 3 digs, 2 blocks

Catherine Ganley 1 dig

Ella Pfeiffer 1 ace serve, 1 kills, 14 digs

Phoebe Glenn 2 ace serves, 20 set assists, 16 digs

Maci Martini 9 kills, 4 digs, 2 blocks

Kate Bolz-Andolshek 17 kills, 6 digs, 5 blocks, 8 ace serves

Lydia Hubbard 11 kills 2 blocks

Mariah Rickard 2 ace serves, 1 set assists, 21 digs

Eckman_Avery.JPG
Avery Eckman

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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